the ubiquitous Robert Olen Butler has finally caught my attention in two ways. One, with the delightful contribution of “Little Fuckers” (way to play to us crude rubes) in the latest issue of Narrative, and two with his brief essay on the short short form in Narrative Backstage. Let me say here that I thoroughly enjoy NB, but I’m not that “into” N, probably for piddly, unimportant reasons like the too prominent display of author photos in the TOC. Does APR still do that, as well? shudder. With so much real art out there, why are we picturing people anymore, except for sentiment? All writers should have their promo portraits done by Malcolm Bucknall.
so Butler attempts to describe the form of the short short in “A Short Short Theory” as distinct from prose poetry (keywords: temporality and yearning) and conventionally plotted fiction (in which there should be two, count em, two! epiphanies). Unfortunately you have to donate $$$ to see the full essay. also, if your ADD with writing-about-writing-speak is too severe to tolerate this two pager, you can skip to the last paragraph and have enough to pass the quiz (next post).
for those of you who want the ugly, cheat sheet version--short shorts feature human subjects and human subjects yearn. two occasions of yearning, the initial demonstrated expression and recognition of it (our double epiphanies), tend to occur simultaneously.
I may have gotten it all wrong, though. Regardless, I like what I got.